Warren, Graham and Murphy (‘WG&M’) is one of Australia’s leading regional law firms. We are widely recognised for our long history of providing high quality legal services at a reasonable cost.
WG&M can trace its origins back to the 1870’s in East Gippsland. The first two law firms that were established in Bairnsdale were W.B. Thomson & Co (circa 1879) and C.A. Commins & Co (circa 1883).
Robert Gascoigne Warren (‘Warren’), worked as a common law clerk for a Melbourne firm during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Warren’s wage had been reduced drastically during this time and he was concerned about his future. He heard of the death of a Bairnsdale solicitor named C.A Commins. Commins’ practice was advertised for sale and Warren travelled to Bairnsdale to see it. The agents offered Warren the practice for $300.00. He had no money and so he borrowed $600.00 from a relative to enable him to purchase the practice and move to Bairnsdale. He arrived in October 1932 and changed the firm name to “Commins & Warren”. In 1936, W.B. Thomson decided to retire, and Warren took over his practice. The firm name was changed to “Warren & Thomson”.
Warren served in the Air Force during the Second World War. During this time, the practice was run by a locum who was caretaking for other practices in a similar capacity. Upon his return, the volume of legal work was gradually increasing, there was considerably more conveyancing work. Warren expanded his office and he sought another partner to join the firm to help with the increased workload.
Alan Murray Graham (‘Graham’) joined Warren in partnership in approximately 1952. The firm name was changed to “Warren & Graham”. Graham specialised in Commercial law and he brought this knowledge and experience to the firm, along with great energy and enterprise. Graham was a first-year law student when the Second World War broke out. He joined the air force in approximately 1941 and served in England as a spitfire pilot. During his service, Graham’s plane was hit by a bullet, however he was able to successfully glide the plane to a safe landing, causing extensive damage to the plane but he only suffered minor injuries. He had landed in ‘no mans land’ however he was fortunately picked up by a British Jeep and taken back to base. Upon his return to Australia, Graham went on to complete his law degree and took out the Supreme Court Prize. Graham was an active member of the local community. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1990 in recognition of his service to the community and tourism, he was instrumental in setting up the Victorian Eastern Development Association, he was involved in the RSL, rotary and was a life member of the Ski Club of East Gippsland.
In 1956, due to family circumstances, Warren regretfully retired from the firm and moved to Melbourne.
Milton d’Stere Murphy (‘Murphy’) joined the firm as a partner after Warren retired. The firm assumed its current name, Warren, Graham & Murphy. Murphy had served as a private in the AIF from 1942 – 1946, he was discharged from the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion. He completed his law degree in 1950 after working as a clerk with a trustee company. Before joining WG&M, Murphy had previously practiced in Echuca and Horsham. Murphy was experienced in Property Law and Probate. He practiced at WG&M for over 30 years. He was an active member of the local community, being a life member of the Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, and over the years was Treasurer of the Bairnsdale Golf Club, a member of the Ski Club of East Gippsland, Secretary of the Gippsland Lakes Yacht Club and president of three Apex clubs.
Warren started the firm in Bairnsdale with very little money and he had a deep understanding for the economic hardships facing regional people. Warren would often not charge adequately for his work because he knew that his client’s had little money to spare but needed legal representation to ensure that they had access to justice. The firm maintains the values of its founders today: providing access to justice at reasonable cost and a commitment to excellence.
Today, we have a team of experienced local lawyers and staff who understand regional issues and can provide a personalised service to both regional people and businesses. Our team are located across three offices in Gippsland and we travel to visit clients across Victoria. We have the latest technology which means that we can provide services to clients in any location, Australia-wide and internationally.
Contact us today, we’re here to help you.
A special thank you to Ian Campbell who was a Director at WG&M from 1964 for over 50 years and contributed to the information contained on this page.